Canadaâs first Chinese arrived in British Columbia in 1858 from California. Almost all meeÂmerchants, peasants, and laborers Â and almost all from eight rural counties in the Pearl River delta in what is now Guangdong province Â they came in search of gold and better fortune, escaping the rebellions, flood and drought of their homeland.
By 1863 over 4,000 Chinese lived in B.C., filling jobs shunned by whites: miners, road builders, teamsters, laundry men, restaurateurs, domestic servants and cannery workers. Between 1881 and 1885, thousands more arrived, most imported to build the transcontinental railway. They were to create, in Vancouver, Canadaâs largest and most dynamic Chinese Community, known to its original inhabitants as Saltwater City.
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